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The Jade Museum

by Mackenzie Hudson

I have been told that I need to visit Jade Museum here in San Jose so my friend Kelsey and I went to check it out. It did turn out to be a great museum to go to. There were 5 exhibits about jade and indigenous groups that used it on a daily basis. The first exhibit showed many different pieces of jewelry made with jade by different indigenous groups. Some pieces varied from small bracelets to large and colorful necklaces.

The next exhibit was called the Day Room. I learned that “jade” is actually made from jadeite and nephrite. Originally I thought that Jade was a dark green stone, only to be mistaken. Jade varies in color depending on the amount of iron and chromium. Therefore I was a little surprised when I saw pieces of Jade that were grayish white, light, dark, and bluish green, yellow, and even brown.

The museum focused on 3 major indigenous groups from the Americas that have worked with Jade: the Olmec, Mayans, and Pre-Columbian groups from Costa Rica. Here in Costa Rica most Jade came from Guanacaste (west coast) as well as the Central Caribbean Plains. The exhibit showed the production of Jade and how it is made into jewelry. I really loved this museum because we were allowed to touch many of the stones to see how they are different during various steps of the production. Accompanying the jade pieces were ceramics that indigenous groups have also made, most of them sculpted into various forms or decorated with beautiful colors. I also learned a lot about shamanic rituals, offerings, and other ceremonies that included jade. Polished jade stones were seen to have magical qualities and were therefore very important. They were used when a person was sick, when making sacrifices to gods, as a form of protection, and for much more. We not only learned about jade but also the indigenous communities and daily routines. The Night Exhibit showed pieces that had to do with warriors, war trophies, death and burials, and the attire as well as jewelry they would often wear. I thought it was very interesting that warriors would wear elaborate necklaces made from a collection of jade stones all carved as heads then strung together. Some used to wear huge hear plugs, nose rings, and rings made of jade as well. The museum was very interactive and I would suggest to anyone to make a visit when in San Jose.

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